Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bonus Mission #2: Second Life means Business

Based on this week’s readings, argue: Why is Second Life not a game? Support your argument by giving an example of how virtual worlds, such as Second Life, could be used beyond mere entertainment (plenty of real-world examples if you look hard enough).

Bonus Mission #2: Second Life means Business

.: A world where reality ceases to exist and imagination is key :.

The commonly conceived notion of games is usually one that is based on a mission for strategy games or may have a time frame in the case of arcade-style racing games. However, that notion has been altered with the introduction of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) such as Second Life (SL). SL does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games (“Second Life”, 2007). What SL has is its ability to allow thousands of users, or “residents”, to simultaneously communicate and participate in activities, change their environment by constructing new places or items and even engage in business transactions both on- and offline. Such sandbox-style play differs from other games as it allows residents to create anything and everything from scratch in a manner where their imagination knows no boundaries.

However, the residents of Second Life may see it as just more than a game, as seen by the increasing popularity of Second Life. Based on the homepage of, the number of registered users in Second Life currently stands at 5.3 residents as of 7th April 2007, which means that it has engaged millions of players over a four year span since it opened its public beta version in April 2003 (“Second Life Through The Ages”, 2006). Though it misses the 7 million-mark (by close to 2 million) set by the widely popular MMORPG - World of Warcraft, the game’s audience is growing at about 38% month over month, according to its creator, Linden Lab (Kharif, 2006).

With SL becoming such a popular haven for many residents, it is no wonder that it acts as a marketing platform for most businesses. Calvin Klein’s ck IN2U, a fragrance for technosexuals, is already being marketed in SL. Even food has a part to play in SL. Domino’s Pizza will soon be accepting real-life pizza orders from within Second Life (Reuters, 2007). Hence, it can be seen that SL is more than a game, as not many games target their players by creating interactive areas in the game where users can explore and learn more about the products, or in this case, bring real pizza to your first life.

Honey, I just love the way you smell of the keyboard! :)

Besides marketing products on SL, companies have also decided to position themselves in SL for users to explore. The cover story for BusinessWeek Online in May 1, 2006 noted that “British branding firm Rivers Run Red is working with real-world fashion firms and media companies inside Second Life, where they're creating designs that can be viewed in all their 3D glory by colleagues anywhere in the world” (Hof, 2006). Even media companies are catching on by setting their virtual companies in SL. CNET networks, SL Herald, New World Notes and Reuters are just some examples of companies that want to send a multimedia message and be exposed to the young segment of consumers who spend long hours in virtual worlds (Kharif, 2006). Hence, what makes SL so popular to many corporations is the ability to program scripts to make the corporations look as realistic as the ones in our real life. Otherwise, most of the companies would have used other more well-established and popular games such as World of Warcraft to market and position themselves.

Telling the Residents what to think and not just what to think about!

Apart from the number of companies that eagerly rush to appear in SL, SL by itself has a rather robust virtual economy. With about 1.4 million transactions a month that is tax-free (for now), good and services are transacted based on Linden Dollars ($L), which are convertible to real dollars (Reiss, 2006). Based on the recent Linden/U.S. exchange rate of 252 Linden dollars to one U.S. dollar, the GNP of Second Life in September 2005 was L$906 million or U.S.$3.6 million. It is thus no wonder that residents like Anshe Chung made her fortune in land development business, which she has built from nothing two years ago to an operation of 17 people around the world today (Hof, 2006). Chung's firm now has virtual land and currency holdings worth about $250,000 in real U.S. dollars. The creator behind Chung’s avatar acknowledged that the virtual role-playing economy was so strong that it had to import skills and services from the real-world economy (Hof, 2006).

Besides the economic aspect that makes SL more than just a game, the social aspect also facilitates on the way virtual communities work in SL. With its immersive nature and compelling social dynamics, SL becomes a rich, persistent alternative world (Levy, 2007). Such MMORPGs foster a greater community spirit with guilds and in the case of World of Warcraft (WoW), when guild member Azeroth died in real life, “his grieving friends decided to hold a funeral for him inside the game” (Levy, 2007). While this may seem touching, friendships are easily forged in virtual games, considering the fact that many players spend hours glued to their computer screens. For instance, while stuck on Help Island in SL, it was easy for a noob like myself to befriend other players simply by chatting with another resident to inquire for directions or ask for recommendations on places to visit. Hence, it is no surprise that some relationships flower into marriage in WoW, with Tauren brides and Undead grooms tying the knot in some virtual tavern in Thunder Bluff (Levy, 2007). Furthermore, if physical exhaustion could kill a workaholic in real life, it was reported in Xinhua News Agency that one girl died of exhaustion after playing WoW for several days without a break (Levy, 2007). While games are often seen as fun and relaxing, they can kill when played to extremes. Thus, this serves as a warning to addicted SL residents who perceive the game as their “priority” life.

In conclusion, Second Life is clearly more than a game with its prospective economic growth and its rising marketing aspects for many corporations. Furthermore, the lure for individuals to be quick, virtual entrepreneurs makes SL different from other sandbox-style games such as The Sims or Grand Theft Auto. Together with the social aspect that online interactions facilitate communication with other residents in Second Life to form stronger ties, it is no doubt that the lines between the game and the physical realm are becoming blurred.


Hof, R.D. (2006, May 1). My Virtual Life. (Article posted on web site BusinessWeek Online). Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Kharif, O. (2006, October 17). Big Media Gets a Second Life. (Article posted on web site News Analysis. Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Levy, S. (2007). World of Warcraft: Is It a Game? (Article posted on web site Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Reiss, S. (2006). Virtual Economics. (Article posted on web site Technology Review). Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Reuters, A. (2007, March 9). Domino’s in Second Life: in 30 nanoseconds or it’s free. (Article posted on web site Second Life News Center). Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Second Life. (2007, April 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Second Life Through The Ages. (2006, July 16). In SL History Wiki. Retrieved April 7, 2007, from

Friday, April 06, 2007

QotW10: My holiday headache in Second Life

QotW10: My holiday headache in Second Life

This was perhaps one of the most interesting and memorable blog assignments that we had in a while besides joining Twitter and setting up a blog. (I personally thought setting up a blog was more interesting than Twitter!)

This week, we had to join Second Life (SL) and try it out. It was quite fun exploring SL, as I was luckily to have only minor lagging. But, I got giddy since I'm not used to playing RPG! Anyway, here's my avatar in Second Life:

Introducing: Velvet Villota!

I created my avatar on 4th April 2007. The reason why I chose her name was simply because she represents the "face" for this assignment and perhaps, the avatar to this blog. Villota, her surname, was chosen among the list of many last names since it complemented "Velvet". As for her likeness to myself, I leave it up to you to decide! Haha! :P

When I logged into Second Life for a second time, I was wondering how come it was so dim. I thought that it was due to the settings of my monitor. Then I figured SL probably had night and day time too! Hahaha!

Yes! YOU can fight the moonlight! :P

While playing around the options, I found this option called "Force Sun" and it was nice n sunny at 8.20pm! Not recognizing where I was, I looked around and found that I was on Help Island, facing the Freebie store...

Help me on Help Island!

After getting some stuff in the Freebie Store, I realized that the terrible thing was that when i changed outfits, my avatar had no Hair!! So i decided to stick with the current look.

Flying around Help Island was interesting but it was more comical to see Velvet land, especially if the vertical distance between the landing place and altitude you were at was large!

I found a "clone" who looked like me and she gave me some tips on where to go and we chatted for quite some time before finding out that she had been around for a few months.

Elke Shepherd and Velvet Villota

She recommended that I check out Roma (Rome) and Koma, which is a Hawaiian Village. I went to both places but didn't see anything interesting. So i headed to Paris 1900 instead!

Oppz! I blinked!@

I'm actually standing in front of Moulin Rouge but the sign is blocked since there were Easter eggs holograms and flowers bubbling out from the building next to it.

Inside Moulin Rouge

I teleported to Japan after this but I could not find the same place that Carol went to and ended up in Japan Resort, which was my final destination.

Ah! Getting to rest my weary feet!

Ending my holiday with a beautiful sunset...

Overall, I spent around 2 hours using SL from customizing my avatar; giving Velvet wings to changing her outfits, to exploring other parts of SL. It was really an interesting and a large place to visit! I do hope to explore more next time and perhaps by then, UB-SIM would be up and running for all of us to have virtual lessons in one of the classrooms!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

QotW9: STOMP – the news by us

Explore The Straits Times’ and based on the readings below, is STOMP an ideal form of citizen journalism for Singapore? How would you improve it?

QotW9: STOMP – the news by us

What is Citizen Journalism?

With the rise of the Internet and the ease with which technology allows us to keep one another updated through the use of SMS, forums, blogs or even moblogs for up-to-date news and happenings, it is now possible for anyone to be a citizen journalist. Citizen journalism or “participatory journalism” as defined by Wikipedia, is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information". The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires (Citizen Journalism, 2007).

What makes citizen journalism different from traditional news media is the difference between how much censorship there is and how bias the view would be. Unlike journalists working with the media, the news by a citizen journalist would not be highly censored and would provide a more unbiased viewpoint. As noted by Dan Gillmor (2004), “governments are very uneasy about the free flow of information, and allow it only to a point”. As print and broadcast news media is highly censored by the government, the news media may only show 1 side of the story or perhaps even none. Thus, we may lack information of the real world, unless we read about it through the perspective of others on their blogs or other sources. In that sense, the news becomes less unbiased as compared to the way the media frames it for the viewers to see.

STOMPing the way to Singaporean news

STOMP is the acronym for Straits Times Online Mobile Print. It is a Singapore-based online portal created by Singapore Press Holdings that enables Singaporeans to interact and engage in current affairs of Singapore through the three platforms of online, mobile and print (STOMP, 2007). STOMP delivers content that is interactive and will help develop new communities of Singaporeans bonded together by shared interests. Furthermore, access to the website is completely free and as for SMS and MMS, only normal Telco charges apply to users. Under the “About Us” section, The Straits Times Editor Han Fook Kwang explained, "In the new media environment, newspapers have to be more than just passive providers of news. They have to engage their readers in areas, which appeal to them. We have to provide readers with new avenues to express themselves, to enable them to interact with us, and among themselves." Thus, STOMP encourages anyone with something to say or share to do so through its portal. This ensures that everyone is given a “voice” and is not left out.

In previous years when STOMP was non-existent, readers could only share their opinions in the Forum page and it had to be pertinent to the articles written by the journalists. Thus, only the best letters to the editor were chosen due to the physical constraints of the newspaper. It was virtually unheard of to share gossip or sightings with the press back then. Yet, STOMP recognized that news can happen in an instant and members of the public could be on location to capture the news (with their mobile phones) before the reporters. Hence, having the portal meant that news could be disseminated easily and quickly through the eyes of the public.

Furthermore, STOMP caters to many interests of the audience by allowing content to be added by the readers. The topics range from pet peeves (“What Bugs Me”), good-looking people (“Hey Good Looking), sports (“EPL Stomping Ground”), good food (“ST Foodies Club”) to asking questions (“Ask ST”) and having an interactive forum (“Talk Back”) available to its users. What I liked about the portal was that they had a section called “English as it is broken”. It highlights signs or even daily conversations that uses poor English. While the main aim of The Straits Times was to broadcasts the news, the latent function was to help to improve the readers’ command of the English language and this section adds value to the portal.

STOMP = an ideal form of citizen journalism?

While STOMP looks set to be a form of citizen journalism for Singaporeans to discuss news and occurrences, it may not necessarily be ideal. The fact that it is based online means that only those who have access to computers and the Internet will benefit from this portal. As mentioned by Gillmor (2004),

“…citizen journalism is mostly the province of what my friend and former newspaper editor Tom Stites calls “a rather narrow and very privileged slice of the polity—those who are educated enough to take part in the wired conversation, who have the technical skills, and who are affluent enough to have the time and equip­ment.” These are the very same people we’re leaving behind in our Brave New Economy. They are everyday people, buffeted by change, and outside the conversation.”

Hence, the poor and/or the elderly may not be able to take part in STOMP as they may lack the knowledge on how to or may not have the means to do so. Though they are considered a minority, their views can still help shape the news.

Feedback… Feedforward

As STOMP appears to be an online community where like-minded people add their views and share information, one way to improve would be to have more people join STOMP to further contribute to the categories. This would provide a diversity of views and it would be interesting to note what other categories could be added. Another way to improve STOMP would be to allow political opinions and constructive criticisms to be shared at the forums. STOMP could also elect members of the public to contribute as moderators and this acts a bridge between the media and the public in allowing better feedback on improving the portal. This would give the public a greater sense of attachment to STOMP rather than just contributing articles to it.


About Us. (2006). In STOMP. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Citizen journalism. (2007, March 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Gillmor, D. (July 2004). We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from

STOMP (online portal). (2007, February 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 30, 2007, from

Saturday, March 24, 2007

QotW8: Speak, Strike, Redress

Adopt either a Singapore politician who blogs or a local blogger who discusses politics. After that, turn to “Does the Internet create Democracy?” (2002) by Alinta Thornton, and ask yourself: Do blogs allow for greater democracy in Singapore?

QotW8: Speak, Strike, Redress

(Social and political issues related to Singapore and the South East Asia region. A blog which attempts to do so in a non-trivial manner treating opposing views with the respect they deserve. Contributions are welcomed from all regardless of your political persuasion.)

Blog title: Singabloodypore

URL link:

Blogger’s Name: Irishman Steven McDermott, 33, aka Soci, a former sociology lecturer and one-time resident here who now runs the blog out of Scotland.

Bloggers’ occupation: Citizen Blogger

Blog’s Date of birth / First blog entry: July 3rd 2003

Technorati rank: Non-existent as it is not registered with Technorati. However, there are 2515 links to this blog.


When I first read this blog, I was impressed with its content and its simple white-background-black-text layout. The main aim why this blog was created was for its author, Soci (short for Society), to vent his frustrations on the way individuals in Singapore were suppressed by society’s lack of freedom for self expression.

One example was that organizations tend to favor the management and those below in hierarchy become “yes-men”, where they never question why this policy was implemented or will it work. To question something or to disagree with the superiors will certainly be disrespectful to what is “best” for the organization. This issue does make me recall Jack Neo’s movie, “Just Follow Law”, where it highlights the satirical look at the inflexibility of outdated governmental rules and regulations and the rigid mindsets of civil servants who follow rules to a fault (“Just Follow Law”, 2007). How can an organization improve when there is no input by the employees?

This abstract was taken from its first post dated on 3rd July 2003 and it highlights the rigidity of the hierarchy of the organization that Soci works in:


“usually uttered by a male claiming superior status to others involved in the so-called discussion. I use the term 'discussion' loosely. The 'gatherings' are more akin to that of a lecture, whereby one of the bodies talks and the others feign interest, such as nodding head and tilting head to the left or right. Significance of tilting left or right may require further research...Only the self-proclaimed individual or speaker may speak. I have myself upon arrival committed a serious breach in the rules of interaction by uttering , during a gathering the phrases, 'no' and 'why?'. these words responded in a breach of the rules of speech. Or simply put, i spoke. Quickly realising my mistake and making excuses this body retreated from the gathering... in order to return another day.”


Besides organizational issues, Soci also highlights issues such as the community, culture, East and Southeast Asia politics, media and freedom of expression in the form of reports or articles released either on print or online. However, when he first started in 2003, he posted more of his thoughts on the dysfunctional side of Singapore, including what he felt about the political party in Singapore.

“The first thing that struck me as odd was that the Rally of a particular political party is heralded as the nation’s speech. Surely it should be classified as the Peoples Action Party Rally. This then led to further ideas. In particular, that the PAP has assigned itself as 'Singapore', and as 'the' Singaporean Government, past present and future” (August 20, 2003).


One feature that stood out from other political bloggers in Singapore was his online petitions, which ranged from economical issues such as the GST hike to social issues such as the anti-death penalty in Singapore. This allowed interactivity for readers and made up for the lack of comments for many entries. In addition, the blog was also mentioned in The Straits Times, ZDNet, AsiaMedia, IPS News and Today Online.

Blogs… do they have the power to “speak, strike and redress”?

As I read Soci’s blog, I realized that his views on Singapore were true to a large extent – Singapore allows freedom of expression but it is to a very limited extent in the public domain. The government largely regulates the mass media in Singapore and anything not in favor of the main political party is largely weeded out. While they are able to censor the media companies in Singapore, they are unable to regulate the growing number of blogs and forums in the virtual world. As noted by Thornton (2002), “the role of traditional media (television, magazines and newspapers) in modern democracy is increasingly problematic, and serious questions have arisen about its capacity as a site for political criticism or rational debate”. Since traditional media can only hold a superficial amount of information and readers thoughts, the rest of the information is transferred to the online avenue where most of the people air their views.

With the rise of bloggers and their ability to share their views through their blogs, it also brings them one step closer to an opportunity for more voices to be heard in the public sphere (Thornton, 2002). As such, this encourages bloggers to continue to air their thoughts, as writing brings them closer to like-minded individuals with similar interests where they can leave comments or link similar blogs to their own.

As highlighted by Gerald Giam (2006) in The Online Citizen, there was a disapproval over self-regulation by bloggers, as “most Netizens were against the idea of any sort of regulation or code of ethics on a platform which some saw as the “last bastion of truly free expression” in Singapore”. Hence, while blogs are currently unable to change the government’s stance over their policies, they still have the power to allow the authors to speak their minds as well as to influence their readers. Democracy will come in future when there are too many voices to be ignored by the government and the people persistently seek to rectify their situation.


Giam, G. (2006). “The politics of Singapore’s new media in 2006.” Retrieved on March 24, 2007 from

Just Follow Law. (2007, March 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from

Thornton, A. (2002). Does Internet Create Democracy? Retrieved on March 24, 2007 from

Friday, March 16, 2007

QotW7: Twit thy Wit

What is community? Can community emerge from online interaction? What are the implications of the Internet for traditional communities? This week, we’ll be discussing the concept of computer-mediated community. After using Twitter through the web, instant messaging or your phone (SMS), would you consider Twitter an online community? If not, what is it? To argue your case, use key concepts from the required readings Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure?” by Fernback and Thompson (1995) and/or “Net Surfers don’t ride alone” by Wellman and Gulia (1996).

QotW7: Twit thy Wit

What is an online community?

An online community or virtual community is a group of people that may or may not primarily or initially communicate or interact via the Internet. Online communities have also become a supplemental form of communication between people who know each other in real life. The dawn of the "information age" found groups communicating electronically rather than face to face. (“Virtual Community”, 2007). It can be used loosely for a variety of social groups interacting via the Internet. Yet, there need not be a strong bond among the members, as virtual communities form when people carry on public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships (Rheingold, 2000). However, as noted by Wellman & Gulia (1996), communities do not have to be solidary groups of densely-knit neighbors but could also exist as social networks of kin, friends, and workmates who do not necessarily live in the same neighborhoods. Hence, communities can be formed even without physical space. Some examples of online communities include Friendster, WhoLivesNearYou, My Space, Facebook and Twitter being the latest edition.

Communication is Key…

What makes Twitter work like an online community is that it allows you to connect and communicate with many others at once. Unlike instant messaging, where you will never get to know everyone all at once, Twitter allows you to know what others are doing at a glance and to respond to comments in a broadcast manner. As noted by Fernback & Thompson (1995), the structural process that is associated with community is communication, as it is needed to organize social relations. Thus, in order to communicate with the rest of the community of Twitter, the user must start adding friends in order to have a social aggregation. This works for almost all social networks, as you need to seek people to communicate with. However, how close one will become to another user online depends on how much information is transmitted and shared using the white box that says, “What are you doing?” In addition, the strength of the bonding process in Twitter is determined by how well one can interpret human emotions through the text as relationships are formed with other users through words, which will act as a form of a dialogue for 2 or more users. Thus, unlike a forum with many threads, this has only 1 main talking point for users to express what they are thinking, what they did (or at doing) at that point in time.

Input(Communication + People) = Output(Community)

After joining Twitter and figuring out how it works, Twitter has proven to be an interesting idea where you tell people or your friends what you are doing at that point in time. In my opinion, Twitter works like a shout out box, where you can say anything you want and others can read and respond to what you say. Twitter is also similar to a forum as messages are updated live every 2 minutes and it works in a broadcast manner - You get to read what everyone in your list says and you get to respond to whoever you want. This also means that your friends are able to see what you say to others. Hence, Twitter is to a large extent an online community as one can share or broadcast ideas and keep in touch with others quickly.

Twee Wend!

The nature of Twitter is a virtue community that allows surface relationships to form provided that people carry on public discussions long enough with sufficient human feeling, albeit not facing the person directly. It can be considered a community even though it poses only 1 question as people can branch out telling others about their different daily activities and making it a market place of ideas.


Fernback, J., & Thompson, B. (May 1995). Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure? Retrieved March 14, 2007, from

Rheingold, H. (2000). The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. London: MIT Press.

Virtual community. (2007, March 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 16, 2007, from

Wellman, B., & Gulia, M. (1996). Virtual Communities as Communities. Retrieved March 15, 2007, from

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nelly Furtado - All Good Things (Come To an End)

Sing the song of the week...

Nelly Furtado - All Good Things (Come To an End)

This song is really a nice one.... Enjoy!

Honestly what will become of me
don't like reality
It's way too clear to me
But really life is daily
We are what we don't see
Missed everything daydreaming

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to end?
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to an end?

Traveling I only stop at exits
Wondering if I'll stay
Young and restless
Living this way I stress less
I want to pull away when the dream dies
The pain sets in and I don't cry
I only feel gravity and I wonder why

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to end?
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to an end?

Well the dogs were whistling a new tune
Barking at the new moon
Hoping it would come soon so that they could
Dogs were whistling a new tune
Barking at the new moon
Hoping it would come soon so that they could
Die die die die die

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to end?
come to an end come to an
Why do all good things come to an end?

Well the dogs were barking at a new moon
Whistling a new tune
Hoping it would come soon
And the sun was wondering if it should stay away for a day til the feeling went away
And the sky was falling on the clouds were dropping and
the rain forgot how to bring salvation
the dogs were barking at the new moon
Whistling a new tune
Hoping it would come soon so that they could die.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

QotW6: Bonus Mission #1: Are you watching me watching you?

Bonus Mission #1: Are you watching me watching you?

Earn an additional week’s grades by creating blog post on the following:
  1. Staying clear of danger, capture your own video or photos of Singaporeans doing anything interesting.
  2. Alternatively, if you don’t have a camera, search for a relevant video / photo online to participate.
  3. Document the context of the video / photo (Who, What, When, Where, Why).
  4. Explain what you think about the it using key concepts from any of the readings from QotW6.

This photo were taken during COM 242 on January 18 and it shows the meaning of Sousveillance.

Defined by Wikipedia as the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity (i.e. personal experience capture), the term also refers to the recording or monitoring of real or apparent authority figures by others, particularly those who are generally the subject of surveillance. Steve Mann, who coined the term, describes it as "watchful vigilance from underneath" ("Sousveillance" , 2007).

Such an incident is a form of personal Sousveillance, as I used a mobile phone camera to snap a picture of this. So while Mr Lim is recording us to see how attentive we are, I'm taking a photo of him recording us. It is also known as Inverse surveillance, where people with power (those at the top of the hierarchy) are now being watched by the lower ranks.


Sousveillance. (2007, February 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

QotW6: Do not imagine how I look like online

After reading The Naked Crowd (2004) by Jeffrey Rosen, use key concepts in the reading to explain how you negotiate your privacy online or offline, by giving a case study of your affiliation with a particular service (e.g. social network, blogs, Youtube, school, business, etc).

QotW6: Do not imagine how I look like online

Kate: So what are you doing now?

Chloe: I’m getting my blog done.

Kate: What’s a blog?

Chloe: It’s an online diary, where you write about your personal life and it’s then published on the Internet.

Kate (surprised): Then how can it be personal? Aren’t diaries supposed to be personal?!

If this looks like a familiar conversation on what blogs are, it probably may have occurred to you when blogs started to become popular in Singapore around 4 years ago.

I personally thought blogs were a contradictory idea - on one hand, they are supposed to hold one’s innermost thoughts and are private, yet on the other hand, the nature of web logs leaves one’s thoughts open to the rest of the world. As mentioned by Rosen (2004) in The Naked Crowd, even the most intimate moments of life, such as a wedding, are now being posted on the web for public consumption. Yet, to what extent is our privacy being compromised?

Do not diversify…

I never thought that I would have to start a blog but once I did, the first thing I had to decide was how much information I wanted to reveal. As noted by Rosen (2004), the growing pressure to expose ourselves in front of strangers has obvious and important consequences for a democracy's ability to strike a reasonable balance between liberty and security. The key in blogging is to strike a balance between one’s privacy while having the freedom to write unreservedly. No one wants to be stalked after writing their entries but it is easy to piece together a person’s identity and lifestyle if he writes freely on almost any aspect of his life. As succinctly summarized by Sullivan (2006), the digital bread crumbs you leave everywhere make it easy for strangers to reconstruct who you are, where you are and what you like. Compared to blogs that are very specialized and feature only 1 aspect (such as food, pets, selling handmade jewelry), blogs that feature many aspects of a person’s life make it easier for anyone to find out who they really are, simply by piecing information together.

Do not try and guess how I look like…

Hence, to negotiate my privacy for my blog, the first thing I do is to not put any personal information about where I stay, what my phone number is or even how I look like on the blog. As noted by Mr Kevin Lim during one of his lectures on “Online Identities”, he said that sunglasses (in blogs) are a must! Well, this is perhaps true to a certain extent as it is difficult to ascertain how a person looks like without able to see his/her eyes. Another way to prevent people from knowing how you look like is to show one part of your face without showing the whole profile. While my eyes can be seen in my self-introduction to this blog, the rest of my face is covered. This is just one way to prevent people from visually knowing how the blogger looks like and while there are preventive methods (such as to distort or crop photos), the best way is to not place a picture of oneself.

Do not think I am merely 1 facet…

While there are many facets of my blog that people can read about, the main thing that stands out the most are my photographs to capture the reader's attention. Pictures capture a thousand words and photographs are no exceptions. They are snapshots of my life and perhaps, do tell a story of my life. However, I am mindful of what people know about me through my photos, so I tend to post photos of interesting places or beautiful sunsets that I capture from time to time. If one wants to protect his privacy by not placing a photo of himself on his blog, it is also advisable not to place photos of his neighbourhood, his friends, his office location or anything that can be traced back to him (besides knowing how he looks like). To put it simply, Do Not Give Away Any Identifying Details. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (2005) gives this practical advice: don't use real names or post pictures of yourself.

While the main function of this blog is to be an academic blog, it is also meant to be a photoblog. However, it is up to my discretion on what kind of photos I want to upload and I chose not to upload pictures that my reveal my identity or the identity of my friends or family.

Do not imagine this to be the end…

In conclusion, there are many ways to negotiate one’s privacy online. In blogging, I feel that the most practical way to prevent people from identifying a blogger is not to post any pictures that may easily identify who the blogger is or where he/she works, lives or who the family and friends are. It is so easy to piece together one’s identity through the style and content one writes, so why make it easier for stalkers to know how you look like by placing photos of yourself?


How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else). (2005, May 31). In Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Sullivan, B. (2006, October 17). Privacy Lost: Does anybody care? [Article posted on Web site]. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from

Rosen, J. (2004, July 19). The Naked Crowd. [Article posted on Web site]. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from

.: This entry was awarded for Creative Style for Week 6! :.